William Blumberg is a 24-year-old professional tennis player from the United States. Will was ranked as high as #4 on the Junior ITF tour and won the Junior Davis Cup for the U.S in 2014. Will went on to play at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he played for five years at the top of the lineup. He was the first ever Ten Time All-American in College tennis history. Currently, Will is competing on the ATP tour and is ranked #84 in doubles holding three ATP 250 titles and four ATP Challenger titles.
- Can you talk about your childhood and your introduction to the sport of tennis?
I grew up in Connecticut, the youngest of three boys. We all played tennis and would go to Rhode Island in the summer where we learned to play tennis and golf. As the youngest, I had to learn how to play tennis to hang out with them. I left school in 8th grade to pursue tennis fully at the national training center in New York and Florida. I was traveling so much, I could not go to school anymore, so I had online school.
- At what point did you start taking tennis seriously? What was your training routine like in juniors and how did it progress?
We almost trained more when I was younger compared to college. It was pretty intense. College is interesting because you can make your own schedule. We had a team practice and individual practice as well. You had an allowed allotted time to practice. I dealt with injury in college so I managed how much I would train. I believe that training should be individualized, not every player needs an absurd amount of hours on the court.
- What was it like competing at the highest level junior tournaments, traveling the world at such a young age?
It was crazy to be able to travel that much at a young age. When I would travel to the junior tournaments I would just travel from the tournament site to the restaurants and hotels. It was simply a tennis trip. Now that I am an adult when I travel I go and sightsee and do so much more when visiting new places.
- Can you describe your emotions as you won the Junior Davis cup?
It was an awesome team effort. Playing alongside Tiafoe, Mmoh, and Ponwith are memories I will never forget. Representing your country is the greatest honor you can have. Hopefully, someday I can play Davis Cup or the Olympics.
- Did you ever consider going professional and skipping college?
College and education were always super important to my family. Going to college and having these opportunities right in front of me was too hard to pass up. It was always the right decision for me no matter what. I thought about leaving early throughout my college career many times.
- What led you to commit to UNC?
I visited a bunch of schools and liked them. It came down to Virginia and North Carolina. UVA felt a little too much like where I grew up in Connecticut and that’s what led me away from there. I loved everything about UNC and it was the best decision that my family and I could have made.
- You had an impressive freshman year, making it to the NCAA singles final and playing at the top of the lineup after starting in January. How much confidence did that give you going into your sophomore year? What was the relationship like playing above several upperclassmen?
I felt like it was great for me. Coming in and playing on a close team with great senior leadership helped a lot. Coming in the spring semester allowed me to focus more, I made a ton of great friends and did not party much. I think the guys respected my level and who I was and once they realized I was ready to sacrifice anything for the team it helped. I do not think anyone was bothered that a freshman was playing at the top. At a certain point, you are all competing for the same goal.
- What was your most memorable experience during your college tennis career?
When Blaine Boyden clinched the match against Georgia in the semifinals of NCAA’s. My last ever college match during my fifth year was crazy too. I found out I was going to be a ten-time All-American, it was pretty surreal. I had a huge sense of relief.
- You were the first 10-time All-American in men’s college tennis history. What does that mean to you? What led to your continued success during your college career?
I don’t know if one thing led to it. I would consider myself a pretty good player and met the requirements of becoming an All-American. However, there was some luck involved. I only played 10 matches during the Covid year, and if I did not win all 10 matches I would not have become an All-American. The team believed in me and it helped a lot. I wanted to win a team championship though and that’s what kept me coming back each year.
- What led to your decision to play the 5th year?
I was thinking my college career was over due to Covid. No one knew really that we were coming back to school. My family and girlfriend helped me out a lot. They helped me be patient. The tour canceled a bunch of pro events and there were a ton of examples showing that it did not make sense to go pro then. Playing that fifth year guaranteed me a lot of matches against solid players.
- Did you know you were going to go pro after college?
I always knew I had the level and knew I was going to go pro, it just came down to when. I was #4 in ITF juniors and none of the top ITF juniors I played with went to college except me and were reaching the top 200 quickly. That gave me a belief that I had the level to go pro.
- Can you talk about how you rose in the doubles ranking so quickly and if you plan on playing singles still?
I have always focused on singles. I received a wildcard into Newport with Jack Sock in 2021 and we won and my doubles ranking went from 1500 to around 280. I played Cary Challenger and won that, and I kept winning doubles tournaments within the first few months. I still wanted to play singles but my doubles ranking is super high and my singles ranking is low because I only played 3 or 4 singles events. It puts you in a tough position because you have to think of it financially. I plan on playing these events in doubles and play singles when I can. I am going to talk to my team about how we should move forward with scheduling to see what makes sense.
- What is your biggest takeaway since college graduation?
I found that is very important to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. That can be traveling more, scheduling, or traveling a week longer.
- What is your most memorable moment so far on tour?
I have a few. Playing and winning Newport last year in front of my family was really special. Jack was nice enough to play with me. Going back this year and winning it again with Steve johnson was really special as well. Making it into the final eight club at the U.S Open was awesome also. Caty Mcnally and I made the semifinals of Mixed Doubles there.
- What is one piece of advice you would give to freshmen playing at the top of their team’s lineup in college?
Be really good at the things that take no talent. You can always control how hard your work, when you show up, if you ask questions, being coachable, and if you manage to do all of those things you can control properly you are destined for success. If you do everything you can to get better then you can go to bed knowing you did your best. My dad always told me you can do 2 of these 3 things but you can’t do them all. You can have great academics, tennis, or social life but you have to choose 2 to be really good at.
- Do you have any goals for 2022? And for 2023?
Breaking the top 100 and getting into the slams were goals I achieved this year. I have some I did not achieve so I will keep pushing toward those. I still have a lot to learn and will sit down with my team and talk about the year going forward.